The £899 model I’ve reviewed, the Nitro 5 AN515-51, is powered by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 mobile core. It’s a Pascal part with 640 stream processors, 4GB of dedicated memory and a 1,354MHz core clock, which is good, but it’s a step behind the Dell – the £1,079 Inspiron boasted the GTX 1050 Ti, which adds 128 stream processors and is 139MHz quicker.
The GTX 1050 will play most Triple-A games at high and very high graphics settings on the Nitro’s 1080p screen. It ran through Tomb Raider’s high-quality benchmark with an average of 45fps, and handled its Very High settings at 34fps. In Shadow of Mordor it averaged 43fps.
Only the toughest games will prove too much for this GPU, but the Dell’s GTX 1050 Ti is quicker. That machine ran Tomb Raider’s High settings at 50fps, and it managed 53fps in Shadow of Mordor.
The Acer machine is powered by a Core i5-7300HQ processor, which is another mid-range component. It’s got four cores but no Hyper-Threading, and it runs at 2.5GHz. It’s a step behind the Core i7 chip inside the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, which has four Hyper-Threaded cores and a 2.8GHz speed.
Benchmarks illustrate the gap between the chips. The Acer’s weaker single-core speed saw its Geekbench single-core result of 3,658 fall behind the Dell by around 500 points, and its lack of Hyper-Threading saw it score 9,482 in the multi-threaded test – whereas the Core i7-powered Dell managed a result of 12,033.
The Acer has enough pace to handle games, general-purpose software and work tools, but the Nitro isn’t helped by some of its peripheral components. The SSD’s read and write speeds of 539MB/s and 424MB/s are entirely ordinary, and the 8GB of DDR4 memory is arranged in a single-channel configuration, so it’s always going to be slower than a pair of 4GB sticks.
The four-cell battery can’t compete with the Dell’s six-cell unit. The Acer’s power pack lasted for three hours and 38 minutes in the standard benchmark, which is entirely ordinary for a gaming machine, and it then handled 90 minutes of intensive gaming with the screen at full brightness.
That’s a little better than most gaming laptops, but still not brilliant. It’s also unable to compete with the Dell, which lasted for a mighty eleven hours in the standard benchmark. In this department, there’s no competition.
At least the Acer never gave us any thermal issues. The Nitro remained quieter than most gaming notebooks through every benchmark and stress-test, and its peak CPU and GPU temperatures of 82°C and 59°C are no concern. The exterior remained cool, too. That’s an improvement on the Dell, which was louder and too hot on its right side.
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The £899 Acer that I’ve reviewed is the cheapest Nitro 5 model, which means it’s a step behind the Dell and its GTX 1050 Ti graphics core. However, two different models are available. Spend an extra £100 and you’ll net a version with a Core i7 processor to match the Dell, and another £100 on top of that will add the GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip.
Should I Buy the Acer Nitro 5?
Acer’s machine might not have the power of the Dell thanks to its lesser processor and graphics card, but the GTX 1050 GPU and Core i5 processor as still easily fast enough for 1080p gaming – and they help make the Nitro 5 much cheaper than the Dell, too.
Those components sit inside a well-built, good-looking case that has a solid selection of ports.
Unfortunately, the lower price comes with a few issues. The screen is cold and has poor colour reproduction, the keyboard is too soft for serious gamers and the battery is underwhelming.
Dell’s rival machine doesn’t necessarily solve these issues, though, and they’re common faults among many more affordable gaming machines – not just the Acer.
The Nitro 5 doesn’t excel in any particular area, but it’s more than good enough for the mid-range – so it’s a good alternative if the Dell is too expensive.
Acer’s latest gaming laptop doesn’t stand out in any particular area, but it’s got enough power for 1080p gaming and it’s good enough in other departments to not cause issues – and it looks the part, too. It’s a solid choice if other mid-range gaming laptops remain a tad too expensive.